The essays in this volume examine the relationship of the Jacobean Witchcraft Act to the culture and society of seventeenth-century England. The book explores the potential influence of King James’s works and person on the framing of the Act, including the relationship of Shakespeare's
MacBeth to these events, as well as the impact of the Darrell controversy on the shaping of witchcraft beliefs before the Act. It also asseses the impact of the legislation on society in various parts of the country, as well as examining how drama reflected the ideas found in the legislation. The volume concludes with a look at the reasons for its repeal in 1736. This work provides new interpretations of the influence and application of the 1604 Witchcraft Act by some of the world’s leading scholars of witchcraft.
Contributors include: Jonathan Barry, Jo Bath, Roy Booth, Chris Brooks, Owen Davies, Malcolm Gaskill, Marion Gibson, Clive Holmes, P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, John Newton, and Tom Webster.
John Newton, Ph. D (2003), University of Durham, is a freelance editor and researcher. He has published various articles on the culture of the early modern period (he has a particular interest in the construction and interpretation of the 'supernatural') and edited
Early Modern Ghosts (Durham University, 2002).
Jo Bath, Ph.D (2000), University of Newcastle, is a freelance historian, and Associate Lecturer in the history of Medicine for the Open university. She has published on witchcraft, ghosts, and north-eastern criminal history.
"...a fine contribution to the ongoing historical debate". Jacqueline Simpson, The Folklore Society, UK. In:
Folklore, Vol. 120, No. 3 (December 2009), p. 344.
Table of contents
List of Contributors
1. Introduction: Witchcraft, Witch Codes, Witch Act,
PART I. THE NEW KING AND THE CRUCIBLE OF THE ACT
2. King James’s Experience of Witches, and the 1604 English Witchcraft Act,
P. G. Maxwell-Stuart 3. Standing within the Prospect of Belief:
Macbeth, King James, and Witchcraft,
Roy Booth 4. Witchcraft and Possession at the Accession of James I: The Publication of Samuel Harsnett’s
Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures,
Clive Holmes 5. (Re)possession of Dispossession: John Darrell and Diabolical Discourse,
PART II. ENGLAND UNDER THE ACT
6. Applying the Act of 1604: Witches in Essex, Northamptonshire and Lancashire,
Marion Gibson 7. The Treatment of Potential Witches in North-East England,
Jo Bath 8. Witchcraft and Stage Spectacle: Spectacular Witches after 1604,
Chris Brooks 9. Witchcraft, Emotion and Imagination in the English Civil War,
PART III. THE PASSING OF THE ACT
10. The Politics of
Jonathan Barry 11. Decriminalising the Witch: The Origin of and Response to the 1736 Witchcraft Act,
Appendix I. The Witchcraft Act of 1563 (5 Eliz I, c.16.)
Appendix II. The Witchcraft Act of 1604 (1 Jas. I, c. 12.)
Appendix III. Canon 72 of the Church of England (1604)
Appendix IV. The Witchcraft Act of 1736 (9 Geo. II, c. 5.)
All those interested in the history and literature of Witchcraft, Church History, Jacobean Drama, Folklore, History of Philosophy and Legal History.